Did you receive an unfavorable decision in a criminal case or a civil case? If so, you are necessarily out of options. Few things are more stressful or frustrating than receiving unfavorable legal decisions—especially when you feel strongly that the court got things wrong. The reality is that courts are not perfect. Mistakes happen. 

Through an appeal, you can challenge a legal error. This raises an important question: What are the possible outcomes of an appeal? The short answer is that an appeal could result in the verdict being affirmed, the case being returned to fix a legal error or a new trial. Here, our Washington appellate law attorney provides an overview of the possible outcomes of an appeal in the state. 

Background: Understanding the Appellate Law Process

The American Bar Association (ABA) puts it clearly: An appeal is not a re-trial. It is not a new trial, An opportunity to appeal does not mean that you will have a second opportunity to make your case. Instead, the appellate law process exists to give parties a chance to correct serious legal errors, misapplications of law, or other miscarriages of justice. To bring a successful appeal in the Washington States, you may cite clear grounds for appeal. 

An Overview of the Possible Outcome of an Appeal in Washington

Every appeal is different. In that sense, a civil or criminal appeal could have a wide array of different outcomes. The specifics of the decision rendered by an appellate court matter. That being said, the possible outcomes of an appeal in Washington can fit into four broad categories. An appeal could lead to any of the following outcomes: 

  • Decline to Hear the Appeal: In some circumstances, Washington courts are required to hear appeals. For example, if a person is convicted of a felony criminal offense, then their first-level appeal (at least) will be reviewed by an appellate court if they wish to pursue one. However, there are certain civil matters in Washington in which a court may decide not to hear the appeal. This means that the lower court decision will stand. 
  • Affirm the Decision of the Lower Court: An appellate court may affirm the ruling of the lower court. If a trial court’s decision is affirmed in Washington, that means it will stand and that it will be set to take effect. A party could potentially respond to this by filing an additional appeal—seeking a review by an even higher court, such as the Supreme Court of Washington/ 
  • Reverse the Decision of the Lower Court and Remand: An appellate court in Washington can reverse the lower court’s decision and remand the case with new instructions. Indeed, this is actually the most common type of successful result. It is more common than a new trial being awarded. When a case is reversed and sent back to the lower court, the appellate court will generally provide instructions regarding a certain matter, such as the interpretation of the law.  
  • Reverse the Decision of the Lower Court and Order New Trial: Finally, an appellate court can reverse a decision of a trial court and order a new trial. Whether a new trial will occur depends on the facts of the case. In some circumstances, such as in certain criminal cases, a Washington prosecutor may actually decide not to re-try the case. In effect, this means that a new trial would result in the conviction being vacated and the charges being dismissed outright.  

You Have a Limited Amount of Time to Initiate an Appeal in Washington State

Are you considering filing an appeal in Washington State? If so, it is imperative that you take immediate action to preserve your right to do so. Pursuant to state regulations, a party to a case must submit a proper Notice of Appeal. The Washington Courts explain that a Notice of Appeal must be initiated within: 

  • 30 days from the date the court entered the decision; or
  • By the deadline listed in the relevant statute, if it is different. 

The appellate law process for both civil appeals and criminal appeals in Washington State is strict. If you fail to initiate the appeals process prior to the relevant deadline, then you will almost certainly lose out on the right to appeal your case at all. Preserve your options by consulting with an experienced Washington appellate lawyer attorney as soon as possible after an adverse verdict.  

Contact Our Washington Appellate Lawyers Today

At The Appellate Law Firm, we specialize in civil and criminal appeals. If you have any specific questions or concerns about the possible outcomes of an appeal, we are here to help. Call us now or 

Contact us online to set up a confidential consultation. We provide appellate law representation throughout Washington State, including in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Vancouver, and Kent. 

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